Dragon boaters gearing up for a splash

Paddlers are readying for the annual regatta at Furlong Bay, which will draw boaters from across northwest B.C.

Terrace mayor and local dragon boater Carol Leclerc demonstrates to several new boaters how to hold the paddle.

Paddlers are gearing up for the annual Dragon Boat Regatta Sept. 10 at Furlong Bay, which will draw over 120 people from across the northwest to Lakelse Lake for a fun afternoon of competition.

With six dragon boats loaded with 20 paddlers each and several new people coming out on the water, Lakelse Dragons president Pam Bibby said she expects it to be a lot of fun.

Pipes ‘n’ drums usher in the opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. and races start at noon, beginning with a round robin to seed teams for the final races.

As is the custom, fun competitions will take place between main races.

The “Ladies of the Lake” event will pit mixed up teams of ladies in competition, with names drawn from a hat to form teams of paddlers. The women race for champagne and chocolate.

The men’s tug-of-war will divide a boatload of men against each other, with half the boat paddling in one direction and the other half paddling in the other direction. The men paddle for a prize from Sherwood Brewery.

Last year was the first time for the men’s tug-of-war and Bibby said it was “lots of fun, lots of splashing, lots of grunting and groaning.”

The annual “Guts and Glory” event will be changed up again this year. Traditionally, they have stretched the usual 250-metre race to 1,000 metres for the final guts and glory race. But they found it was a bit too much for finalists, who had already paddled multiple races, so last year the two bottom teams paddle the big stretch instead.

“We will probably do something similar… we are keeping it as a surprise,” said Bibby.

This year, individual paddlers have the ability to sign up, as well as teams, so those who cannot get a group of 20 people together can still sign up to participate.

“It’s really hard to fill a boat with 20 people,” Bibby said.

“So some of our boats this year will probably be a combination of teams that don’t have 20 people available but might have half a boat. Then we will join them up with another half a boat.”

Earlier this month, the Lakelse Dragons ran a “Get Dragon Boating” event which drew 23 paddlers, most of whom had never been dragon boating before, Bibby said.

“They were all brand new to it except for a couple… There were two people who had been in dragon boats before, but I think all the rest were brand new and had never tried it before.”

“Most of them were interested in coming and paddling in the regatta,” she added.

“It was very good. It was a hot sunny day and no wind… lots of fun,” she said.